Come out and help us count the Coho Salmon smolts as they migrate out of Shelly Creek to the Englishman River.
Every spring, for six weeks, we set up a smolt trap in Shelly Creek to count the number of Coho smolts and fry that overwintered in the creek to escape the turbulent flows of the Englishman River. We usually count several thousand in a season but one year was exceptionally good when we counted over 8000 smolts. Rainbow and Cutthroat Trout also venture into the trap, along with the occassional frog, salamander and duckling.
The smolt trap is on Martindale Rd where Shelly Creek crosses under the road. We start counting at 9 am every morning and are usually done by 10 am. If you would like to volunteer to count the fish, frogs, salamanders, etc., sign up for the days you are available right here. Sign Up.
On March 21 and 22, eight volunteers joined Dave Clough, our consulting Biologist, to assess the salmon and trout habitat in Morison Creek and identify areas of the creek that need restoration work. In addition to the volunteers, Dave's assistant Brad, and 2 VIU students, Chelsea and Spencer, were there to lend a hand.
Morison Creek flows through Errington and enters the Englishman River on the north bank, approximately 1.1 km upstream of the confluence of the Englishman and South Englishman Rivers. It is an important creek for Coho Salmon, Steelhead Trout and Cutthroat Trout. Its 35.6 km2 watershed was historically logged resulting in heavy water flows that washed out much of the gravel and cobble (valuable fish habitat) in the lower reaches, leaving bedrock and boulders on the creek bottom. Morison Creek has 2 sets of falls. Triple Falls is the most well known and a barrier to Coho and Steelhead spawners, although there have been undocumented observations of fish successfully leaping the falls in years with high flows. The upper reaches and headwaters contain Cutthroat Trout and pass through farm land. A few of these farms were the sites of sediment control work conducted through a collaboration of land owners and MVIHES between 2005 and 2007.
Measurements such as channel width, water depth, and percent slope of the creek banks are taken at each riffle (a stretch of choppy water) and pool.
Observations are recorded on:
- the amount and type of vegetation at each location - provides shade for the creek and bank stability.
- the amount of bedrock, boulders, cobble, gravel and fines on the creek bottom.
- the amount of large woody debris in the creek - important for providing cover for fry and smolts.
Other important information includes the number and size of obstructions in the creek, which are usually formed when a large tree falls over trapping more woody debris, like branches and smaller trees, behind it. These can make travel up and down the creek difficult for fish, not to mention human volunteers.
It was wonderful to get to see this beautiful creek and take part in the data collection. Once the information is processed, a habitat restoration strategy and plan will be developed for the creek. Stay tuned.